No matter where you live, moving is always a pain. I recently moved to my third apartment in 1.5 years in New York City and practically have the process down to a science. Part of the mid-twenties apartment move nearly always includes the requisite trip to IKEA for affordable furnishings. This is how I found myself in Red Hook, Brooklyn on a recent Sunday afternoon. After a morning spent with my chic foreign friends, Hemnes, Malm, and Vittsjö, I was more than ready for a patio brunch nearby.
I am admittedly unfamiliar with the Red Hook neighborhood outside of visits to my favorite blue and yellow superstore and the occasional summer afternoon spent shucking crustaceans at Brooklyn Crab. After a bit of online searching, I discovered a quaint row of bakeries, restaurants, and mom-and-pop shops on Van Brunt Street and had a difficult time narrowing it down to just one brunch locale. I finally pushed my Gemini tendencies aside and landed on The Good Fork after a particularly warm review from New York Magazine. My boyfriend Andrew was a good sport and accompanied me on my IKEA adventure, and I repaid him for his heavy lifting with brunch on me.
The Good Fork is nestled between brownstones with (gasp!) actual yards and local businesses. The restaurant has a delightfully kitschy interior that meshes well with the funky neighborhood. We were lead through the eatery to a secret garden in the back where we were seated alongside locals sipping their morning coffee and thumbing through the newspaper at a leisurely pace.
Andrew and I were still decompressing from information overload at IKEA so we stuck with non-alcoholic drinks during the meal. I wrongfully assumed that everywhere in Brooklyn serves coffee with almond milk by now, but disappointedly had to order my latte with skim milk. First world problems. Regardless, my flavorful coffee was served piping hot so I ultimately had no complaints once properly caffeinated.
The main reason that initially drew me to The Good Fork was its interesting Asian twist on a traditional American brunch menu. Morning options were all over the map from breakfast bibimbop to brioche French toast. Both Andrew and I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to (appropriately) eat dumplings before noon so we unanimously selected the homemade dumplings to start.
The dumplings were filled with a familiar combination of pork and chives, which earned it a place on the brunch menu. The plate was easy to share and light enough to tide us over until our main courses without feeling overindulgent. I appreciated that they weren’t too greasy and were clearly made to order judging by their temperature and freshness. This brunch appetizer went quickly and was a strong start to our meal.
I’ve been on a bit of a carnivorous kick lately, which I attribute to my recent uptick in Equinox boot camp classes, and promptly ordered the Korean-style steak and eggs. This entree, containing marinated prime steak, potatoes, mixed greens, and a fried egg, was made “Korean-style” with rich Asian flavors and seasoning. The flavors were mouth-watering and complex. My meat was cooked perfectly medium-rare and sliced thin, allowing for easy cutting and yolk-dipping. This dish hit the spot and was the perfect size to sustain the rest of my afternoon.
I’m a firm believer that one should generally stick to the cuisine that is the specialty of the restaurant when ordering, which is why the Korean-style steak and eggs was my immediate entree choice. Andrew deviated from my POV and went the Mexican route rather than Asian, and proved me right. The breakfast tacos were the only menu item inspired from our neighbors south of the border and unfortunately Andrew found them lacking in flavor. Originating from the Southwest, Andrew is a tough taco critic and the Good Fork’s variety did not exceed his expectations. He appreciated the fresh ingredients, but the dish needed a bolder kick. “Good, but not great” was his ultimate decree.
After I settled the check, we grabbed our oversized blue IKEA bags, which our friendly servers accommodated by our table, and ventured out to explore more of Red Hook. Our brunch at the Good Fork was exactly what we were looking for: low key, satisfying, and unique. On our way back to Manhattan we couldn’t resist the colorful treats at BAKED, a popular bakery down the street, and popped in for a quick doughnut to go. It was a sweet ending to a sunny afternoon spent exploring another nook of New York City.
The Bitches say: B+. Stick to the Asian-inspired menu items for simple food with complex flavors in this comfortable neighborhood spot.
The Good Fork
391 Van Brunt St.
The Good Fork serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.